Thursday, February 05, 2015


Twice a day, I turn Grace in with the three calves and they take care of milking her.  She likes them all and enjoys feeding them.  She also loves the fact that I give her a small bite of sweet feed for cooperating.  By "small bite", I mean about 1/4 of a large coffee can, just a taste, to motivate her to come when I call.  

Before I turn her in with the calves, I make sure to close the door to the stall where the calves spend the night; I haven't been letting them in there lately, but I take pity on them when be single-digit temperatures are expected (as there were last night), and I close the gate that leads to a temporary pen we've made in our yard where the calves' water and hay bale is.  (You know you're a redneck when you keep cows in your yard.)  If Grace sees the stall door open, she goes in there and starts nibbling on the square bales of clover hay (they aren't really square, they're oblong... but that's what people call them).  

at least I remembered to close the gate to the yard-pen
If I leave the gate to the temporary pen open, she will go through and start eating the calves' hay, even though there is an identical bale outside in the pasture to which she has access all the time.  It isn't a big deal really, I just have to get my livestock prod and go chase her out of forbidden territory, of course with three calves in hot pursuit.  I smack her soundly with the livestock prod, yell "hut, hut" to her, and she slowly goes back where she belongs.  By the way, if "livestock prod" sounds like an instrument of terror...

there it is, a white, fiberglass stick with a black handle, not the electric kind of prod that shocks.  You can smack Grace with it as hard as you like and she won't move a bit faster, because it doesn't hurt.  It is VERY handy, though, for holding in front of the calves when they try to follow Grace into the barn after their meal.  I can just tap them on their little heads and they step back.  Once they get used to the prod, I can drive them anywhere by simply tapping them on one side or another.  

So this morning, I forgot to slide the door to the stall closed.  And Grace, once she stepped out of the barn, noticed this out of the corner of her eye and, rather than walk straight ahead to the "small bite" of sweet feed awaiting her, she made a sharp left turn into the stall... where, in addition to clover hay, there was a large coffee-can-full of feed that I had just poured into a calf feeder.  I grabbed the prod and beat away.  She didn't even feel it.  So here's what this morning's milking looked like:

By the way, I think my chores are about to get a little more labor-intensive:  These calves will soon be four months old.  I would love to wean them and put new calves on the cow, so I've put in a word with my usual suppliers for two Jersey/Holstein bull calves; it's the same folks I bought Grace from as a baby.  

This gets a little complicated because poor Cliff will have to figure out someplace for another makeshift pen.  Also, I will probably have to milk twice a day for awhile, because Gracie gives WAY too much milk for two Jersey-cross calves, and until they get used to a large amount of milk, they are likely to get scours (diarrhea); so I will have to take some of the surplus.  I really should get three calves, although there would still be too much milk for them at first.  I'd rather have more big Holsteins like Whitey and Moose, but the dairy now has them priced at $425 each, and I can buy two or three of the Jersey-cross calves for that price.  I just want something to sell later on, to bring in a little extra money.

Wish me luck.


I'm mostly known as 'MA' said...

It sounds like a lot of work to me, but then you have an advantage of being used to a lot of cows. I wouldn't be able to handle one let alone all those. Good luck on your ventures. Doing what you love to do isn't really work at all.


It sounds like alot of work to me too. Especially getting them to do what you want. I haven't the patience. I wish you GOOD LUCK in your latest endeavor.

Barbara In Caneyhead said...

Pete's gone and decided to get into hogs again. Lots of extra work and feed. But good eating. At least you could actually turn a dollar or two.
Life & Faith in Caneyhead